Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the Kherson and Luhansk regions for the first time since the Russian military offensive in Ukraine began more than a year ago. Putin met the soldiers stationed there and held talks with the commanders, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The Kremlin did not provide any more precise information about the time of the visits. It was also said that Putin brought congratulations and icons to the armed forces in the Kherson and Luhansk regions on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter celebrated last Sunday.
"The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has visited the headquarters of the General Staff of the military unit 'Dnipro' in the Kherson region," Moscow said. Putin spoke with the commander of the Russian Air Force, Mikhail Teplinksi, and other high-ranking military officials about the situation in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions. "It is important to me to hear your opinion on the situation, to listen to you, to exchange information," Putin said in a video released by the Kremlin.
It was Putin's first visit to the Kherson and Luhansk regions since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine in February 2022. Both regions are partially controlled by Russian troops. In September 2022, Moscow declared Cherson and Luhansk, along with two other Ukrainian regions, to be annexed. In November 2022, the Russian army withdrew from the city of Cherson, capital of the region of the same name, to retreat to the other side of the Dnipro River.
In the Luhansk region, Putin met with representatives of the General Staff of the Russian National Guard stationed there, the Kremlin said. In March, Putin paid a visit to the Crimean Peninsula, which has been annexed by Russia since 2014. He then traveled on to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, which was besieged by the Russian army for months last year and captured in May 2022.